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Observing Campaign: Request to monitor SDSS133948 for HST observations

Background

Dr. Paula Szkody of the University of Washington and collaborators are performing a comprehensive study of pulsating white dwarfs in cataclysmic variable systems using both ground and space-based observations. In the third week in January, they will use the Hubble Space Telescope's functional component (the Solar Blind Channel) of the Advanced Camera for Surveys to obtain time-resolved ultraviolet spectroscopy of the cataclysmic variable SDSS133948. These observations serve two purposes: to look for time-variability in the ultraviolet spectrum associated with the pulsations of the white dwarf, and to use the overall spectrum to fit a temperature to the white dwarf itself. Detection of time-variability would help to define the pulsation periods of the white dwarf, which in turn provide information about the white dwarf's structure; an accurate measurement of the temperature would help white dwarf seismologists to define the white dwarf instability strip -- the region of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram where white dwarfs are capable of maintaining self-excited pulsations.

Pulsating Variables in the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram Figure 1. A theoretical H-R diagram showing the location of several types of pulsating variable. The white dwarfs follow the cooling sequence on the left-hand side of the diagram. (Image from J. Christensen-Dalsgaard, Lecture Notes on Stellar Oscillations, Fifth Edition, May 2003; available from www.phys.au.dk/~jcd/oscilnotes/)

In order to observe this target safely, the controllers at the Space Telescope Science Institute must know that SDSS133948 is at its quiescent level, or is fainter than a certain limit. AAVSO observers are able to make these observations, and your help is urgently needed to facilitate these important HST observations.

Observers are requested to perform nightly observations of SDSS133948 in the two weeks prior to the HST observing window, and intensive observations during the window. SDSS133948 is at V=17.7, and so this observation will be slightly easier than the three previous HST targets: PQ Andromedae, SDSS074545, and SDSS091908. The image below is a 4.5x4.5 arcminute V-band image with a 5-minute exposure time taken with the USNO 1.0-meter. This object has never been observed in outburst before, so its maximum brightness is unknown. If you cannot detect SDSS133948 in reasonable time, please follow the observing guidelines below.

Figure 2. A 4.5'x4.5' V-band image of SDSS133948 obtained with the USNO-1.0m telescope in a 5-minute exposure. Depending upon your observing system, target either SDSS133948 itself, or any of the comparison stars. Detection of the comparisons but not SDSS133948 will be sufficient proof for HST to initiate observations of this target. If necessary, take multiple short exposures and stack them to reach the required S/N in SDSS133948, or the comparison star used for fainter-than limits. The field of SDSS133948

Requested Observations

Observers are asked to monitor SDSS133948 (full name: SDSS J133941.11+484727.5: RA: 13h 39m 44.11s, Dec: +48d 47m 27.5s, J2000) beginning immediately (2008 January 18 UT). Visual observers please observe this object as normal, and report the faintest comparison star magnitude you can detect if unable to reach SDSS133948 itself. CCD observers are asked to use filters during observations if available; V filter is preferred, but B,Rc, and Ic may also be used. Beginning 2008 January 23, please observe this object as often as possible through January 26 UT using the observing procedure outlined below, and submit data as quickly as is possible. In the event of an outburst, please contact the AAVSO immediately.

For visual observers, any of the comparison stars may be reported for fainter than estimates, but please report the faintest star you can reliably detect.

For CCD observers, if you are capable of reaching V=17.7 in reasonable time by stacking or direct integration, please obtain a S/N of 10 in SDSS133948 itself. Alternately, please expose so that you can make a "fainter-than" determination with a S/N of 10 in at least one of the comparison stars. All of the comparison stars may be used as fainter-than estimators for this campaign, but we recommend using at least the V=15.045 comparison (AUID 000-BFR-715; RA=13h 39m 9.21s, Dec=+48d 50m 10.1s), which is safely below the HST limits. If you can go fainter and still reach S/N of 10 in reasonable time, please do so.

Again, we emphasize that both positive and fainter than observations are useful as long as the fainter-thans can reach the limits outlined above. If you are capable of detecting SDSS133948 itself, please try to do so as we can then detect the start of any outburst; but fainter-thans are also very important constraints for the HST observation planners.

Please promptly submit all observations to the AAVSO via WebObs. Data may be submitted using the name "SDSS133948" or the designation "1335+49".

This campaign is being coordinated by Matthew Templeton at AAVSO headquarters.

Useful Links

AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 aavso@aavso.org 617-354-0484